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Shisha bar advice

If you are an owner of a shisha bar in Lincoln or looking to set up a shisha bar in Lincoln there are number of things you need to take in to consideration to ensure you are operating a safe and compliant business.

The information below gives a brief overview of the typical legal issues experienced by shisha bars, the law it falls under and how to comply. 

Environmental Health considers noise, smoke and odour issues when consulted on planning applications, and makes comments as necessary. 

The open nature of shisha businesses can potentially causes noise and smoke issues to adjacent premises, especially residential properties.  Refusal of a planning application may be recommended if there is potential for smoke and noise to be detrimental to the amenity of neighbours, or conditions may be placed on the planning permission that limits music or imposes hours of operation. 

The 50% rule

Together this is known as the 50% rule. Put simply, this means:

  • If 50% of the wall surface area or more is permanently missing at the edge of the ceiling or roof and cannot be covered or closed, it is legal to smoke under the shelter.
  •  If more than 50% of the wall surface are is closed, including any closable openings such as windows and doors, it is illegal to smoke under the shelter.



  • The Regulatory reform (Fire safety) Order 2005

The responsible person of the business must make sure that a Fire Risk Assessment is undertaken of the premises. A record of the assessment must be kept if there are five or more employees or if the premises is subject to a statutory licence.

There must be adequate means of escaping from a fire to a safe place that are kept clear and unlocked. Escape routes must lead directly to a place of safety with appropriate emergency lighting and signage. 

To ensure the safety of persons in the event of a fire, the responsible person must provide an adequate means of raising the alarm, which may include automatic fire detection. There must also be appropriate fire-fighting media provided  

Staff must be adequately trained and consideration given to the appointment of fire marshals to coordinate any evacuations and meet attending crews.

All furnishings and drapes need to meet the required standards so as not to ignite easily.

Further guidance can be found in either the Small and Medium Places of Assembly guide or the Large Places of Assembly guide

Failure to comply may lead to enforcement action being issued. 

For more information and advice contact:

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service

Website: www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lincolnshire-fire-and-rescue/ 

Email: fire.safety@lincoln.fire-uk.org

Tel: 01522 582222


  • Food Safety Act 1990 
  • The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013  

If the business provides any food or drinks it is legally obliged to register with Lincoln City Council, free of charge.

Storing, preparing and cooking of food must be done safely, and the premises must be in a hygienic state. 

For more information and advice contact:

Food and Health and Safety team

Email:  food@lincoln.gov.uk 

  • Consumer Protection Act 1987 
  • Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 
  • Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 
  • Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs)

Shisha tobacco products must be labelled like other more traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco. 

Packaging that the Shisha is supplied in must display the following: 

  1.  “Smoking kills – quit now” 
  2. “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer"
  3. “Get help to stop smoking at www.nhs.uk/quit"
  4. There must also be a combined health warning with text warning and picture” on the front and back of the packaging. 

If you are selling ‘loose’ Shisha or in small packets, in a bowl or pipe, you still need to comply. This may be overcome by displaying the warnings and pictures on the Shisha menu or when the customer makes their order.

For more information and advice contact:

Trading standards

Call: 03454 040 506

Quit 51 provides the stop smoking service for Lincolnshire, using evidenced based behaviour change techniques and stop smoking medications to support smokers to have the best possible chance of quitting.

You can refer customers to:

FREEPHONE: 0800 622 6968,

TEXT: 'smokefree' to 66777

Email: contact@quit51@nhs.net



  • Licensing Act 2003

The sale of alcohol (at any time) and the provision of late night refreshment (providing hot food or hot drinks between 11pm and 5am) are licensable activities and require a Premises Licence. A Premises Licence may also be required if activities such as the

Provision of Live and Recorded Music are taking place (dependant on time, audience numbers and whether amplified/unamplified). If you intend to provide either of these latter activities you are advised to contact the Lincoln City Council Licensing Department for guidance or seek independent legal advice.

Planning often put restrictions on opening hours on planning permission. You cannot increase your opening hours by having a late night refreshment license.

Email: licensing@lincoln.gov.uk 

Website:  www.lincoln.gov.uk/licensing


  • Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)  
  • Building Regulations 2010
  • Building Act 1984

Changing the use of a premises to a café or bar, or building a shelter for shisha users, may require planning permission you should contact the Planning Department for further advice.

If you are building a new structure, or changing an existing building, you may need to submit a Building Notice or make a Full Plans Application to Building Control. 

You can contact Planning and Building Control online for more advice.

  • The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display)(England) Regulations 2010 
  • The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010

Posters in windows, banners on the side of premises or any other sign which carries a Shisha brand or logo are all prohibited. 

It is an offence for an advertisement to have the effect of promoting Shisha tobacco products. This can include free offers, student discounts, price reductions or the supply of coupons. Products covered include those with only small proportion of tobacco in them. 

Shops can no longer display tobacco products, and there are restrictions on the way that a price list can be displayed. 

For further information for tobacco related businesses please refer to the trading standards companion guides; 

Call trading standards on: 03454 040 506 or visit the website


  • Health act 2006 
  • The Smoke free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 
  • The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012 

Shisha smoking is covered by the smoke-free law introduced in 2007, which bans smoking in most buildings.

Water pipes can only be smoked outside in the open air or in a shelter where more than 50% of the potential wall space, taken at the edge of the ceiling or roof, is permanently open to the air. Fixtures and fittings such as doors, windows and awnings, which can be used to close any space, must be counted as closed. Any open wall should be more than 1.5m from any nearby external wall to allow sufficient smoke escape. This is known as the “50% rule”.

Allowing people to smoke in a smoke-free place can result in prosecution and a fine up to £2,500 in a magistrate’s court. 

You must display at least one ‘no smoking’ sign in a visible position in the no smoking part of the premises. 

  • Environmental Protection Act 1990 
  • Antisocial Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014


Noise, smoke fumes or odour can cause nuisance to neighbouring premises, especially residential. If an investigation determines that the volume of noise, smoke or odour is unreasonable then the Council is able to require works or take action to abate the problem. If the problem persists then this could result in various sanctions against the premises and its owners including prosecution. 

Visit our anti-social behaviour advice pages for more information.

  • Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979
  • Tobacco Products Description of Products Order 2003
  • Tobacco Products Duty Regulations 2001

Shisha containing tobacco, and herbal shisha containing no tobacco, are liable for excise duty.

As a guide – if you are currently purchasing Shisha for less than £10 per 100 grams it is likely that this is an illicit product and the duty and VAT hasn’t been paid. 

  • A criminal conviction for the evasion of duty and VAT could lead to a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment
  • Illicit products will be liable to seizure
  • You can receive an assessment for the duty due and a penalty of up to 100% of the duty amount.


Relevant business taxes and income tax must also be paid. For further advice please contact the HMRC helpline or visit the HM Revenue & Customs Website.


  • The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (as amended)
  • The Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991(as amended) 

It is an offence to sell Shisha containing tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. If you think someone is underage you need to ask them for ID. A sign saying “it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18” must be displayed. Selling a Shisha product to an underage person carries a maximum penalty of £2,500.

Call trading standards on: 03454 040 506 or visit the website

You need to consider how you remove your waste from your premises. This will include paper, ash and cans. You will need a trade waste contract to remove your waste. 

You can find more information on our commercial waste webpage.


Some of the information contained in these guidelines has been developed by Nottingham City Council and are reproduced here with their knowledge and permission.